Police Break Up Armed Robbery That Forced Schools To Shut Down

UPDATED 05/12/11 11:52 a.m.

VERNON HILLS, Ill. (CBS) — Police broke up an armed robbery in the north suburbs on Thursday after three men broke into a grocery store and tied up the owner and his wife.

The robbery also placed nearby schools and businesses on lockdown.

CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports three young men, one of them armed, broke into the La Tienda del Pueblo Mexican grocery store, at 115 E. Town Line Rd. in Vernon Hills, in the Vernon Plaza shopping center, as the owner was opening it for the day around 8:30 a.m. The attackers then forced the man to his floor, and tied up both the man and his wife, who entered the store shortly afterward.

Rosario Herrera says she and her husband, Jose Herrera, were just about to open when three men barged in and locked the door behind them. When robbers tied up her husband, she feared the worst.

Then she heard the front door glass shatter as police forced their way inside.

Rosario was thanking God and police for what she believes is a miracle. 

A customer and another man riding a bicycle saw the robbery unfold and called 911.

At the same time, Vernon Hills Police Officer Sharon Joseph, said: “The U.S. Marshal’s service had been [watching] this crew and it turned into an armed robbery. They were on scene as it occurred.”

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Mike Krauser Reports

When marshals arrived, the suspects ran out the back door. One was caught right away, but two ran off into a nearby neighborhood. A woman and someone else who was waiting in a vehicle outside the store was also taken into custody.

Police also recovered a weapon. It was not immediately known exactly why the marshals were watching the suspects in the first place.

The lockdown was ordered in the ensuing hour, as police searched for the remaining two offenders. They were caught following a foot search.

As CBS 2’s Kris Habermehl reports, the location of the strip mall is along Illinois Route 60 (Town Line Road), near Aspen Drive in Vernon Hills, according to police.

Schools in the area were placed on lockdown as a precaution.

A notice on Hawthorn School District’s 73 website notified parents that the Hawthorn school campus was closed this morning at the suggestion of Vernon Hills police as a precaution. Outdoor activities such as physical education and walking field trips between buildings were also suspended, the notice said.

The Hawthorn Elementary and Middle schools are just to the north of the crime scene.

Also, the Stevenson High School campus in Lincolnshire was locked down due to the robbery. Classes went on as scheduled, but students were not allowed to leave the school.

A notice from Stevenson principal John Carter said the school was locked down until around 9:55 a.m., when the situation was declared “resolved.”

Westfield Hawthorn Shopping Mall remained open, but its staff said they were aware of the situation and keeping an eye on it.

The staff of the Aspen Drive Library in Vernon Hills also said they received a call from police at 8:30 a.m. instructing them to place the facility on lockdown.

At the time, the suspects were believed to be on library property. Authorities searched a field directly behind the library.

By 9:30 a.m., the library had received a call saying the emergency was over and the facility could be reopened.

  • http://zagwee.wordpress.com zagwee

    Why do those idiots just have to go lock down the schools. What a joke.


    • karen smith

      Because the school is right behind it and thy are not idiots they are being safe for my kids.Its not a joke . Get a life you where not in the area it happened.

      • Scott

        Karen, you have excellent grammar. Perhaps someone should lock you in school; an English class to be exact.

    • VH Resident

      My guess is you are not from the area, so you wouldn’t realize that there are six schools all within very easy walking distance of this location. I’m thrilled my children were not at harms way. I don’t need somebody walking into my child’s school with a weapon. Kudos to District 73!

  • Amber

    I think you have the wrong information listed. La tienda is on Butterfield Rd. The Oriental Mart is 115 E. Townline Rd. Another site says the robbery was at Walgreens. This report is pretty pathetic.

    • Jessica

      La Tienda IS on Route 60 – it is right next to Dairy Queen in the strip mall by the 7-11

  • Robert

    I can tell you this.. I found one of the suspects in our dumpster behind our building. It is true how quickly you think about things when you realize you could be looking at an armed suspect.

  • JustJan

    My reference was to the creep who keeps posting racial ignorance. Thankfully his ignorant comments were removed

    • Jerome

      @JustJan, Was it an idiot or a creep? Are you just “Ignorant”? Dumb ass !!

    • Harold

      Isn’t this a rerun?

  • VH Resident

    So scary when this is literally in your backyard. My middle school-aged child frequents the 7-11 in that strip mall regularly after school (which is just across the street). You just think of things like this hitting so close to home.

  • Brooke

    I am so glad that they put the schools on lock down. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. My little sisters go to school right across the street from that strip mall. I’m glad that the right actions were taken to prevent anyone from getting harmed.

  • Maria

    How come so many roberies are happening in our neighborhood? We thought that only in the minority neighborhoods happened. Are these people coming from other places than this one? We want to know who they are and what they were doing here. Too many disruptions on schools and on peoples nervers. Senior citiezens live here and they do not want to be disturbed. Specially nursing homes that need quiet social services. Tying up the owners? Wow we can not even have a safe grocery store around town.
    Grab all of them and send them to jail and put their pictures on Americas most Wanted.

  • paul

    First of all, it was a great idea to lockdown the schools. For all that don’t think so, just think of Columbine. If these people had marshalls watching them, that means they had practice at this sort of thing. Secondly to Maria you must confine yourself to a small section of Vernon because either direction down Butterfield and you run into a minority community, heck the apartments down off forest are mostly minorities. Not to mention your ignorant mentality of minorities. Finally my question is this, if the marshalls were watching these criminals why did this escalate to this level at all?

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